Black River State ForestCamping information
Due to potential of emerald ash borer infestaion, firewood from out of state, or from more than 25 miles away from a Wisconsin state park or forest property, is not allowed. Also, firewood that has been in the Wisconsin emerald ash borer quarantined area is not allowed on properties outside of the quarantined area. Please buy firewood at or near the park or forest where you are going. Call the DNR toll-free Firewood Hotline, 877-303-WOOD (877-303-9663) for information before packing for a trip.
Campsites that have been specifically modified to fit ADA accessibility standards are reserved for those with disabilities, unless stated otherwise.
- Castle Mound family campground: 1 electric accessible site, accessible shower, paved walking path.
- East Fork family campground: No accessible sites.
- Indoor group camp: The cabin is ADA compliant, but not reserved for campers with disabilities.
- Outdoor group camp: No accessible sites.
- Pigeon Creek family campground: 1 non-electric accessible site. \
Reservations are accepted at Castle Mound family, Pigeon Creek, East Fork family and East Fork group camp. Make an online reservation or call 1-888-947-2757. Reservations are accepted up to 11 months in advance for mid-May through the end of September.
The summer season only extends from mid-May through mid-September however camping is available all year at the Black River State Forest. After Labor Day weekend in September many of the campground loops close, but both Castle Mound and Pigeon Creek keep 5 sites open each for those campers wishing to camp later into the fall and winter.
In general during the summer months many 1st-come, 1st-served sites are available during the week with fewer being available on the weekends. Campsites that are on the reservation system can be booked up to 11 months in advance. Occasionally there are sites that have not been reserved which can still be used. Check in person at the Castle Mound contact station.
A vehicle admissions sticker is required to camp at the family and horse campgrounds. The current camping fees are updated annually. There are no fees for either backpack or hunter camping, but filling out a free permit is required.
The forest is open to small game and deer hunting. To ensure your safety during the hunting seasons, avoid wearing brown or white clothing while in the woods. Instead, wear blaze orange or bright colors, including a blaze orange hat. You can look up hunting seasons on the DNR hunting pages.
Campgrounds come in a number of different categories. On one end of the spectrum, the campground is very developed with paved walking paths and modern plumbing. On the other end it could merely be a previously cleared tent pad with no bathroom or drinking water amenities.
- Modern campgrounds - Provide showers, flush toilets and running tap water.
- Rustic campgrounds – Provides only vault toilets and hand-pump wells for drinking water.
- Primitive or Remote campsites – A diverse group, these campsites can include a range and any combination of the following amenities: pit toilets, open air toilets, no toilets, hand-pump drinking water well, or no drinking water access.
See the campground tabs for a description about each of the campgrounds on this property.
Castle Mound Campground
This modern family campground is open year-round and has a total of 35 sites. There are 29 non-electric and 6 electric sites. There is 1 electric ADA designated site.
Campground includes an accessible shower building, accessible flush and vault toilet buildings, firewood sales, indoor picnic shelter, garbage and recycling station, and sanitary dump station.
All sites at this campground are reservable during the summer, from the Thursday before Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. Make online reservation or call 1-888-947-2757. After mid-September the sites are available on a 1st-come, 1st-served basis where self-register is required. There are 5 sites kept plowed open during the winter.
Directions: Castle Mound serves as the recreational headquarters of the property and is located on Highway 12. From Interstate 94 take exit 116 and head west on Highway 54, take a left turn onto Highways 12 and 27 and head south, followed by another left turn onto Highway 12 east. The entrance to Castle Mound will be on the right.
East Fork Campground
This rustic family campground is open in the spring after the snow melt to the end of the deer gun season in November. There are a total of 24 sites, all are non-electric and there are no ADA designated sites.
Campground includes 2 vault toilet buildings, hand pump water, firewood sales, garbage and recycling station, and canoe access to the East Fork of the Black River.
Tweleve of the sites are reservable from the Thursday before Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. Make online reservation or call 1-888-947-2757. After Labor Day weekend all sites are available on a 1st-come, 1st-served basis where self-register is required. This campground is closed from December 1st through April 14th.
Directions: This family campground is located at the north end of the forest on Campground Road, southeast of Hatfield. Half of its 24 sites are situated along the banks of the East Fork of the Black River.
Pigeon Creek Campground
This is rustic family campground is open year-round with a total of 38 sites all non-electric and there is 1 non-electric ADA designated site.
The campground includes three vault toilet buildings, hand pump water, firewood sales, garbage and recycling center, canoe launch, swimming beach, and access to interpretive and off-road bike trails.
19 of the sites are reservable from the Thursday before Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. Make online reservation or call 1-888-947-2757. After Labor Day weekend all sites are available on a 1st-come, 1st-served basis where self-register is required. There are five sites kept plowed open during the winter.
Directions: This campground is located just off of North Settlement road close to the town of Millston. From Interstate 94 take the Millston exit and head east onto County road O. Turn left onto North Settlement road and watch for signage for Pigeon Creek campground.
Indoor group camp
The modern group Camp is a secluded and quiet indoor four-season facility that can sleep 12. There are wood bunks in the cabin as well as a stove, refrigerator, gas fireplace, heated floors, and a bathroom with a shower. This facility is ADA compliant, but is not reserved specifically for those with a handicap.
An additional rustic outdoor area accommodates a maximum of 50 people in tents and trailers. Water, pit toilets, picnic tables, cooking grills, fire rings, and a dog kennel are also available. The site is handicap accessible. To learn more, see our group camp information sheet.
This campground is located at the north end of the forest on Campground Road, near East Fork Family Campground which is southeast of Hatfield.
Please note: Because it is extremely popular with visitors, the Group Camp facility is frequently occupied, especially during summer and fall. If you are interested in staying at the Group Camp, you should plan to reserve the facility several months ahead to ensure availability. Make an online reservation or call 1-888-947-2757.
Outdoor group camp
New in 2013. This new outdoor group camp is located in the northern part of the state forest close to Hatfield and Lake Arbutus. This site can accommodate up to 50 individuals and provides parking for up to eight wheeled camping units. The site is rustic but offers a new vault toilet building, water, firewood, picnic tables, and a large open play area. The site is open from June 7th through November 30th and can be reserved through Reserve America.
Primitive off-site camping
The forest offers a great primitive camping experience though backpack camping, which is allowed anywhere on the forest with the exception of Hawk Island. We encourage first-time backpackers to use the Wildcat, Red Oak or Ridge trails. Drinking water is available at the Wildcat Trail parking lot and at each designated campground.
Please observe the forest's Carry In/Carry Out policy by packing your trash and recyclables out with you. You may use dead and downed wood as firewood, but do not cut live trees or brush. Make sure your campfire is out before you leave.
A free Special Camp permit is required and can be picked up at the Castle Mound Campground or the Black River Falls DNR Service Center.
A free Special Camp permit is required and can be picked up at the Castle Mound Campground or the Black River Falls DNR Service Center. Or, if you’d like us to mail you one, please see our contact information in the Forest Information tab.
Backpackers must camp at least one mile away from your vehicle and 100 feet from any designated trail or road. You may park your vehicle in any trail or picnic area parking lot.
Similar to backpacking, hunter camping provides another way to camp primitively. To camp during the nine-day gun deer season, hunters must obtain a camping permit prior to opening day of the season. Locations for camping are restricted so please see our hunter camping information sheet for more details.
Permits are free and can be filled out online or picked up at either the DNR Service Center in Black River Falls, or from state forest office. Also, please review the Department of Natural Resource's hunting regulations when planning your hunting trip.
Two primitive canoe campsites are available south of Black River Falls. These campsites are on the east side of the river and include a picnic table, fire ring and portable toilet. The sites are available on a 1st-come, 1st-served basis and limited to a one night stay.
For additional information, including a map of canoe landings, see our Paddling the Black River brochure.